This hopeless envoy isn’t helping Trump
If you thought U.S. President Donald Trump was bad, his chosen ambassador to Germany is “unbearable,” says Christiane Hoffmann. Since Richard Grenell arrived here last year he’s strutted around like a “governor-general,” scolding those who fail to do his master’s bidding. He’s threatened firms that ignore U.S. sanctions on Iran or get involved in the new Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia. Last month, he told Economics Minister Peter Altmaier that the U.S. would stop sharing intelligence with Berlin if it allowed Huawei or any other Chinese tech firm to help build Germany’s 5G mobile internet network. Then he sent tweets griping that the German government’s latest budget allocates far too little to defense, infuriating lawmakers in Berlin, many of whom already wanted him sent home. Can’t he see how counterproductive all this is? He’s not necessarily wrong: Our NATO partners agree that Germany must raise its military spending, which currently sits at a lowly 1.4 percent of gross domestic product. But diplomats should exert pressure less obtrusively. If lawmakers here did what the ambassador wants, they’d look like they were caving to American diktats. Then again, Grenell’s not really interested in the German-American relationship—his “Germany bashing” is aimed at currying favor with Trump, although the president has said little to signify gratitude. For all his rudeness, Grenell looks likely to leave having achieved nothing at all.